Worried that your small-breed dog is packing on the pounds? Run your hands along his backbone. You should be able to feel (but not see) his ribs. You also should see a clearly defined waist behind the ribs. If you can’t, follow these seven tips from Debra Eldredge, a veterinarian and co-author of “Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook,” published by Howell Book House.
1. See the Vet
Before you put your overweight dog on a diet, schedule an appointment with the vet to make sure an underlying health problem isn’t causing the numbers on the scale to creep up.
2. Think beyond Mealtime
Snacks and table scraps might account for your overweight dog’s bulging belly, Eldredge says. If curtailing in-between meals doesn’t make a difference, consider continuing with the same amount of food but switching to a different formula. Your vet can give you guidance.
3. Give Him Veggies
Thawed frozen green beans, canned pumpkin (which is fiber-rich and filling) and cut-up carrots make satisfying, low-calorie snacks for your pet.
4. Redo the Numbers
A study showed that dogs can count up to six or seven, Eldredge says. If he is accustomed to getting two small biscuits as a treat, break one biscuit into two pieces. By his count, he’s still getting two treats!
5. Rethink Rewards
As much as your overweight dog loves treats, he also loves taking walks, playing and spending time with you. You also can replace biscuits with a couple of pieces of the kibble he would get during mealtime.
6. Do the Hunger Test
Is your bichon staring up at you with those beautiful eyes as you nibble on peanuts? He’s probably not hungry. As you have your snack, offer him a piece of kibble. If he turns it down, he’s not really hungry — he just wants your peanuts!
7. Put Him on the Scale
If your overweight dog has just a couple of pounds to lose, it can be hard to gauge whether he is making progress. Ask your clinic if it’s OK if you stop in once a week so he can step onto the doctor’s scale.
adp_related_article_block99 129 YOUR --spice-- MAY ALSO LIKE …
adp_related_article_block99 Continue scrolling for next content
Keeping Your Senior Dog Healthy and Active
It depends on the breed of dog, but your pet's senior years generally begin at age 7. Louise Murray, DVM, director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential (Ballantine, 2008), tells you what you need to know to keep your older dog spry and happy.
Senior Dog Health: Preventive Health
At this stage, Murray recommends taking your dog to the vet twice a year. "So much can happen to an elderly dog," she says. Your veterinarian can take blood annually to test liver and kidney functions. "Discovering problems early is extremely important," she says. Your vet can be on the lookout for conditions that often affect older dogs, such as anemia and arthritis.
Senior Dog Health: Urination, Bowel Movements, and Appetite
Pay attention to what might be subtle changes in your dog's habits: Is she drinking more water or urinating larger amounts? These behaviors might indicate a liver or kidney problem. Have your dog's bowel movements shifted? This could indicate a digestive issue. Diabetes or digestive problems might cause your dog to eat more but still lose weight. Knowing the dog's patterns can help the veterinarian determine a course of treatment.
Senior Dog Health: Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medicines
Continue to use preventive medicines.
Senior Dog Health: Dental Health
Clean your dog's teeth daily. If she has tartar buildup, you might need to have her teeth professionally cleaned at your vet's office, which requires sedating your pet.
Senior Dog Health: Exercise
Your dog is probably less active, so steady, moderate exercise is best for her now. Don't turn her into a "weekend warrior" who, after lying around on weekdays, accompanies you on a 10-mile hike on Saturdays. This is especially hard on an older dog's joints.
Senior Dog Health: Diet
Your veterinarian might wish to put your dog on a senior diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Senior Plus. These formulations contain nutrients specifically geared toward older-dog health.
adp_related_article_block8 100 YOUR --spice-- MAY ALSO LIKE …adp_related_article_block8Continue scrolling for next content